What Are You Like?

Anne Enright, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $24 (272p) ISBN 978-0-87113-816-3
After a flawlessly rendered first chapter, Enright, an Irish broadcast journalist, short story writer and novelist (The Wig My Father Wore), struggles to keep the assorted pieces of her novel together; it is fractured like the family it illuminates. Maria Delahunty is born in Dublin in 1965, delivered from her dying mother, who is comatose from a brain tumor. Maria's father, Berts, brings the baby home, and along with his new wife, Evelyn, they decide ""to love each other if they could."" But Maria grows up conflicted about herself, unable to decide whether she should live in her middle-class home in Dublin or in New York City, ""the country of the lost."" There, she imagines she can reinvent herself, but she ends up cleaning apartments. At 20, she falls in love with a man who carries in his wallet a picture of someone who looks strangely like her as a 12-year-old. Meanwhile, in England, a young woman named Rose, adopted by a wealthy family and also feeling curiously ill at ease about herself, decides she is not talented enough to pursue a career as a violinist, and begins to shoplift. At the same point, the two young women begin to search for each other, leading them back to that impulsive decision the bumbling though well-meaning Berts first made in the maternity ward. Enright's story is compelling, and she writes effectively and generously in the points of view of her various characters, especially in the flat, resigned voices of Evelyn and Berts. The facets of her plot keep multiplying, however, and the cut-and-paste sentences are more perplexing than evocative, e.g., ""His head was full of saxophones that turned into fish, and ordinary matchboxes filled with dread."" The narratives of unhappy Maria and unhappy Rose take on a whining redundancy that mars an otherwise boldly written work. Agent, Heather Schroeder. (Sept.) FYI: Dubliner Enright is a broadcast journalist for BBC Radio 4.
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Show other formats
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-8021-3889-7
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4090-2094-3
Paperback - 259 pages - 978-0-09-928434-5
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.